A Fianna Fáil TD says Micheál Martin is safe as party leader, even if he loses another by-election.
The party is tipped to win the by-election in Carlow-Kilkenny in May, having failed to win all six by-elections in the current Dáil term.
Senior TDs are playing down the defection of Fianna Fáil councillor Patrick McKee, who's now running in the by-election for Renua.
Finance spokesman Michael McGrath said even if the party loses, the future of the party's leader is secure.
"Nobody is holding a knife over anyone, threatening that if the result goes a certain way there will be consequences," he said.
However, he insisted the party was taking the election very seriously.
"Of course we want to improve [and] win this by-election. Everyone realises there's a lot at stake in this by-election, but more importantly, [in] the general election that's yet to come."